Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Meteorite Hits Russia, Causing Panic

A meteorite plunged to earth near Chelyabinsk, over 900 miles east of Moscow. WSJ's Greg White reports that hundreds were injured by the explosion but there was no major destruction. Photo: AP

MOSCOW�A meteorite plunged to earth in Russia's Ural Mountains Friday, exploding into flames in a powerful blast that smashed windows and injured around 1,000 people.

Amateur videos broadcast on state television showed an object streaking across the sky trailing smoke around 9:20 a.m. local time before bursting into a fireball. Residents in the city of Chelyabinsk, the largest in the affected region, described a shock wave that blew in doors, smashed glass and set off car alarms.

"The light was so intense that it completely illuminated the courtyard of our apartment block," said Sergei Zakharov, head of the Russian Geographical Society in Chelyabinsk. "The sound, the shock wave came around six minutes later. No one could understand what had happened. I'd compare it to the explosion of a large flare bomb."

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A contrail above an apartment block in the Urals city of Chelyabinsk; Russian officials said a meteorite or a shower of meteorites fell in the area, collapsing one roof and causing more than 100 injuries.

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